'via Blog this'
I am watching the movie, "Five". I am on the third segment as I write this. As usual, I am crying. But I wonder if I am crying over the characters on the small screen. Am I crying over the loss of my father who passed away from breast cancer in 1989? Am I crying over the battles fought and won and lost by my friends? Some are more than likely happy tears for those that have survived chemo, radiation, surgeries and pain but are still here to tell their own tales.
There are times that I wonder if breast cancer is just lurking under the surface. I am at the same age my father was battling his breast cancer. So are the surgeries and chemo-prevention enough to chase away that genetic and hereditary predisposition? I am so full of doubts. I find myself volunteering for anything I can do with FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered. This is in some way, a reaction to my fears. FORCE helped me through the worst of the times when I had my mastectomies. So giving back is what I need to do.
I also find myself very short-tempered. I erupt, mildly at times and others when lava seems to flow venomously out of my head out loud and also on paper. I have this dread lurking. I should be celebrating the fact I am here and alive and have a beautiful family. And one of my friends from FORCE, Caryn, told me once I am feeling survivor guilt. It is beginning to really invade my thoughts on a regular basis.
Survivors have this feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for breast cancer to rear its ugly head as a metastasis in another part of their body. And it is deemed OK. But is it OK for someone who "dodged the bullet" to wonder if it really is not going to happen? It has struck in a straight line from my paternal great-grandmother, grandmother and then my father. Every one of my family members who opted to be tested for the BRCA gene mutation, has tested positive. It seems to run very strong in our family, even one of my dad's cousins died from ovarian cancer. Our chances are higher than the average person's of developing cancer. The average woman's chance of developing breast cancer is one in 8. As my son just asked me, "Does that mean if you lined up 64 women, 8 of them would have cancer?" More than likely yes.
Because I carry the BRCA2 genetic mutation, my son has a 50% chance he will carry it too. He is now 18 and can make the choice himself to test or not. He has indicated that he wants to. But before he does, I will make sure he has genetic counseling at Fox Chase Cancer Center which is where we were all tested at the Dyson Family Risk Assessment Program (FRAP). I am the only female in my generation and my niece is the only one in hers. She is way too young to be tested yet. I feel guilt over this as well, that I may have passed the gene on to my son and perhaps my brother on to his children.
As I ramble on, I am reminded of the last line of the tile on the wall in the last segment, "Hope for the future." This needs to slowly replace my doubts and concerns. I will never stop helping to Spread the Word and Save a Life through FORCE. Men and women both need to be aware of their family history. Get genetic counseling to see whether or not there is a need for testing and if there is, listen to what they have to say. Better yet, take your significant other or friend to help absorb what you hear. Because like in the "Lily" segment of the movie, sometimes you don't hear the doctor and you need that support to help you! And remember FORCE is here too, www.facingourrisk.org!
Thank you to the directors and producers who made this movie with taste and warmth!
The wall as shown in the last segment, "Pearl".
Love and hugs,